Last week I was fortunate to attend TED Global in Rio De Janeiro Brazil which was titled South! While I have been lucky to attend many of the original TED’s in Long Beach (and now Vancouver), but this was my first time to participate at TED global which this year had 1000 attendees.
A key difference between the two TED’s are threefold. a) The profile of the attendees and speakers, b)the topics being discussed and c) underlying themes with TED Global participants being 1) far more global versus American, 2) the topics being more close to todays reality than tomorrows possibilities and c) the underlying themes being about empowerment of every day people and humanity versus self actualization.
Both TED’s are awesome and if you ever get the chance to go and can afford it I would highly recommend. You can of course experience it at the 10 TEDx events every day all over the world or be among the millions who watch the talks at TED.Com.
Here were my three
1) Mobile combined with cloud computing is the single biggest enabler of all time: We have always been told about mobile in the hands of billions of people will change society but every prediction is probably not revolutionary or optimistic enough since it has not foreseen what these mobile devices can become when combined with cloud computing and data driven algorithms. We saw a combination of incredible low cost medical solutions from early cancer detection to the potential to identify ingredients in any food by simply scanning it and much more.
We saw how electricity was being provided and home improvement facilitated by mobile payment systems. How governments were being held to account by the ability to photograph and share their behavior. How culture was being enhanced and captured for posterity by individuals with nothing but a phone on their pocket linking to a cloud and open source movements.
You cannot but be greatly optimistic about what people will do to improve society and humanity at a scale that is unprecedented.
2) Openness and accessibility will have the greatest impact: Despite being someone who uses both the Android and iOS operating systems I have been a tilted Apple fan . It is clear I may have underestimated how the open nature of Android which brings with it lots of clunkiness will actually be the operating system for the world ( or something like it since no one can predict what surprises may come) and Apple while being highly profitable and newsworthy will likely be a gated system for people who are rich and fashionable enough to be in a gated community.
Apple may control the fashionistas and the press but Cupertino is going to have to really find ways to be even more open (maybe even licensing out iOS to low cost manufactures) than their recent efforts if they want to be a part of the rest of the world. Amazing that the company that brought forth the computer for the rest of us and the smart phone that changed the world may find itself as the mobile system for the elite in a world despite their trailblazing.
Why? Because as more and more people all over the world see their phone as the next most critical thing to their family members the real innovation that is taking place is not “native advertising”, “swiss watch replacements” and ” wonderful to hold and behold” but how mobile technology can lift millions out of poverty, dictatorship and sickness. Its time for Apple to “Think Different” once more.
All of us who work in organizations and governments will be more “open” in our mindsets on how we partner, how we organize and how we move forward in a world of platforms, blurring lines between countries and skills and much more.
3) Technology itself is not good or bad but it enables people to be leverage goodness or badness: Clearly technology by empowering more people than ever before, I believe will create far more opportunities for a better life for billions in the future.
But there is a dark side including the loss of privacy and inability of the current systems of government to adapt to the increasingly mobile data driven tech world. Glen Greenwald the journalist was one of the few big names known in the West to speak since he lives in Rio. Along with quite a few others he explained how critical privacy is to all of us. Two statements he made stood out. First is that we are only ourselves when we are not being watched and second, even Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg who have questioned the importance of privacy go out of their way (including Mark buying up all his neighbors homes) to remain private.
Also sometimes we mistake the ease of starting a movement with actually achieving its goals (notice how many movements today start with a tweet but end with a thud) and could technology be a pacifier and a distractor that makes us lose the plot as to what is important ?
The future does not fit in the mindsets or containers of the past.
Am optimistic that things will be much better than ever.